Don Burnside

Recipes, technology, personal stuff since '03.

Putting old tech to good use

About every 3 or 4 years, I get the feeling that I need to use Linux again. I’ve been doing this since Ubuntu first started, thinking, why not? I have this old computer that isn’t being used for anything, might as well test obscure operating systems.

As a change, I’m actually in need of a computer that only does web stuff. Not edit or store photos or video, not run any programs beyond maybe a text editor. Just web, email, blogging and social media. Oh, and I would like portable, because I don’t want to be stuck having to use computers in my workspace for things that’s aren’t actually work. Like this blog post, for example.

So, here is the rig. It’s an Asus 5300c with a Core I5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a spinning 512GB hard drive and touch screen. Definitely not any kind of a speed demon. It was originally running Windows 8 (not under my ownership), and I upgraded it to Windows 10.

I have installed Windows on computers where it ran worse that Windows 10 ran on this Asus, but not much worse. Boot time, from power on to the desktop, was about 10 minutes. From there, it was non-stop fan spinning and every movement took a minute or longer. Opening Chrome was a 30 second task, and that did not include the web page you wanted to open.

So, Linux Mint to the rescue! They offer three versions depending on the machine you are installing it on. Since this machine is no beast, I’ve installed the Mate version of Mint. And, so far, I’m impressed. Once I was able to get Chrome installed, it’s running like a champ. It’s not rocket ship, but it’s definitely useable! New tabs pop right open, pages load as quick as needed. Heck, going into system settings and poking around isn’t painful either.

For what I need this computer to do, it should be just about perfect!


This is a relatively new term. Coming up through the ranks of corporate training during the 80s and 90s, we just called it new employee training. Back then, software as a service (SaaS) wasn’t a thing, so we called new user training, um, new user training. Like I said, onboarding wasn’t invented back then. After all of these years of doing this kind of work, I can tell you it is exactly the same thing.

My role at work started off as new user onboarding specialist. My role at my last job was new user onboarding specialist. My role for dang near every job that I have had since 1986 has included onboarding, training or documentation. Turns out, it’s what I do.

I’ve since changed roles at work, focusing on eLearning creation, to help round out my skill set. Lot of content creation and helping others get the content the way it needs to be for effective training. Plus, a little bit of course creation thrown in on areas where I am the subject matter expert, or can play the subject matter expert on TV.

One of those, as it turns out, is new employee onboarding. I’m writing this a few days before the newly created onboarding program is rolled out, globally, to our entire company. At some point in history, someone came up with a self-directed learning plan that contained links to over 200 different training. The idea being that you find what you need and consume from this doc. Great, until this doc gets turned into New Employee Onboarding. Let me tell you, over 200 training materials that take about 25 hours to consume is not how you create a good onboarding program. To add to that, there was an instructor led course built into that learning plan, which was a live meeting with our VP of HR. Happens quarterly at about 1000. In France. That’s very early in the morning for anyone in NA, so they were unable to complete the learning plan.

So I put my research hat on and dug in. Over the course of 7 months I was able to develop a new onboarding system, following best practices. There was a lot of writing, testing and meetings, along with a whole bunch of production time developing the content required. I was able to develop a program that provides a sense of completion to the learner, give them some great knowledge about the company and what it does and a good idea about the culture. All in the span of 13 videos that take less than 30 minutes to consume.

I also said system. This new employee onboarding course is just step 1. Moving forward, I will be implementing a course for management about onboarding best practices and how to take advantage of the learning team at the company to help them realize their goals of better team onboarding, if required. I also have planned to work with HR staff on developing procedures for the in-person part of onboarding (getting equipment, setting up payroll, etc.) to make sure all new employees are having a consistent experience. I don’t think this will be 100% the same across countries, but we will do our best to get there.

It will be nice once this rolls out. I’m very excited about it and super happy with with the work that myself, along with many of my co-workers, have been able to accomplish!

Vehicle Shenanigans

This one should really come as no surprise to anyone that has been following me on the bird site for the past year and change. During that time, I allowed the angry bike part of twitter (which lines up nicely with the we hate suburbs part of twitter) to influence me. There is a lot of very interesting things out there in regards to micro-mobility, and I’m jumping into it with both feet, mostly.

Since this timeline started over 1,300 days ago, I have driven my car less that 5,000 miles a year. Go ahead and read that again. I did not miss a zero. The guy that crushes 50k warranties in 18 months, driving less than 5,000 miles in a year? Crazy, I know, but true. And, I don’t expect that to change much going forward for many reasons that I’m sure I’ll discuss later. Taking this new driving pattern into account, I’m struggling to find the justification for spending close to $800 per month for the convenience of having a car.

So, I’m going to sell the MINI. And, I’m going to replace my short trips with an electric bicycle.

I’m calling this an experiment. I live in Glendale, Arizona, which is as suburban as suburbs get. Which means it’s really not that easy to get around by foot or by bicycle. Knowing that, the bulk of my travels (doctors, gym, grocery store) can actually be completed, easily, by bicycle. And I have been talking to the city about the lack of good infrastructure for those not in cars, because why complain when you can actually do something about it.

Anyway, experiment. I will try to ride to work (40 miles round trip) and ride for my short trips around town for as long as possible. Do I think I will actually be successful? Nope. But I do think it’s worth trying and worth saving the money for a few months while I do.

This also means other changes happening to the family of sites. For sure, dbmini will be closing down. I have the domain for another year, and it’s been going longer than any of my other sites. Since I’m not going to be driving a MINI and will probably not drive another MINI, it’s time. It could also mean changes to White Roof Radio, but that’s a lot more complicated. Stay tuned.

Trying something new

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere that I’m cutting back on using Twitter and Facebook. To that end, I’ve started using Mastodon. I’m still not sure if it’s a good fit yet. That said, this post is acting as a test to see if it appears over there by subscribing to this blog.

Let’s go see what happened!